On WBEZ's 848, University of Illinois-Chicago professor Nik Theodore underscored the damage done to Chicago's black community by the economic downturn of the early 2000s and then by the more recent Great Recession and tepid jobless recovery that has followed in its aftermath.
Overall, Theodore said yesterday, median income for African-American households in the region dropped by 8 percent since the early 2000s; white households at the median income level saw a 3 percent drop during the same time span. A 20-year window shows that many gains in income and wealth in the black community have basically been wiped out, Theodore noted: "As we sit here in Chicago today, you see quite a lot of families struggling to help ends meet, dealing with unemployment and underemployment as well." Some of the economic indicators could bounce back as the economy improves, but the current snapshot of the community shows one that is struggling, he said.
Chicago News Cooperative columnist James Warren, meanwhile, highlighted the city's deep racial segregation and economic disparities in his column on Sunday. They mean, he warned the city's current batch of mayoral candidates, that Chicago remains "woefully divided."
Recent census data bears out Warren's point. Segregation means the city's black community is Chicago's most segregated. "Here, 81 percent of blacks would have to move in order to be distributed as evenly across the city as whites, down slightly from 83 percent in 2000," the Sun-Times reported earlier this month.